Rescuers are racing to save five pilot whales stranded on a Massachusetts beach.

The whales were first spotted swimming in shallow water in Eastham on Monday night. By Tuesday morning, International Fund for Animal Welfare crews confirmed that five whales were stranded and one young calf had died.

IFAW crew members tended to the surviving whales, covering them in blankets and giving them IV fluids to help with “stress and shock” from the stranding as they waited to send the whales back to the water on floats, IFAW Director of Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Brian Sharp said in a statement. 

Crews guide the pilot whales to safety off Eastham.

CBS Boston

After a long day, the five surviving whales were released, but four turned back to shore. The rescue attempt was then put on hold.

“One animal is now offshore, but the others did not follow,” IFAW stranding coordinator Misty Niemeyer said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “We will keep an eye on them tomorrow and evaluate next steps.”  

CBS Boston’s Mike Sullivan captured footage of crews using what appeared to be shovels to smack the water in unison in an attempt to force the pilot whales away from the shore. 

Niemeyer said that crews were forced to call it a day and continue their efforts on Wednesday after an exhausting day. 

“The team is exhausted. Large animals can be quite dangerous to work around, and it’s for our health as well as tomorrow’s continued efforts that we need to call it a day today,” she added.

According to IFAW, the large mammals are capable of living out of water for many hours with the right amount of care and hydration. Pilot whales, a more off-shore species, historically strand on Cape Cod, although not on a frequent basis, IFAW said.